Pakistan: pro-government leader, family wiped out in US air-strike

Details are emerging on the victims in the Jan. 23 US air-strikes on Pakistan—the first since President Barack Obama took office. In the first strike on Zeraki village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan, three missiles hit a compound of tribal elder Khalil Khan Dawar, killing him and eight others on the spot. Khalil Dawar was reported to be associated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militia of Baitullah Mehsud, and four Arab militants were said to be among the dead. But in the other attack, in the Gangikhel area of South Waziristan, two missiles hit the house of pro-government tribal elder Malik Deen Faraz, killing him, his three sons and a grandson.

Meanwhile that day, two Pakistani troops were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a military checkpoint in the Fizzagat area of the Swat Valley, North West Frontier Province. (Dawn, Pakistan, Jan. 24; BBC News, Jan. 23)

  1. Gates: missile attacks on Pakistan to continue
    We’d like to think Obama just never got around to turning off the executive order that allows the Pentagon to bomb Pakistan at will. But Robert Gates’ testimony to Congress today indicates otherwise. From CNN, Jan. 27:

    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said missile strikes in Pakistan will continue in an effort to root out al Qaeda members.

    Gates spoke to the Senate Armed Services Committee in his first comments to Congress as President Obama’s defense secretary.

    In response to a question from committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, Gates said the strikes will continue to target terrorists who have based themselves across the border from Afghanistan.

    “Let me just say, both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al Qaeda wherever al Qaeda is. And we will continue to pursue this,” Gates said.

    Asked by Levin whether Pakistan is aware of this continued pursuit, Gates replied simply, “Yes, sir.”


    The tribal region of Pakistan has seen a sharp spike in the number of aerial attacks carried out by unmanned drones.

    The United States has the only military with drones operating in the area.

    In 2008, there were 30 suspected U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan, based on a count by CNN in Islamabad.

    Gates opened his comments with a clear message that Afghanistan is at the top of his to-do list.

    In one of the clearest indications of the military planning for adding troops, Gates outlined a deployment of two brigades by spring and the third by late summer…

    “While this will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight, we can attain what I believe should be among our strategic objectives: an Afghan people who do not provide a safe haven for al Qaeda, reject the rule of the Taliban, and support the legitimate government that they elected and in which they have a stake,” Gates said.